Developing sustainable solutions within the energy sector requires a holistic, interdisciplinary approach. Interdisciplinary partnerships need common frameworks that enable dialogue and knowledge exchange between different perspectives. In this paper we present ‘The Model of Change’ as a framework for designing and evaluating different efforts in innovation projects. By insisting that effects of solutions have to be understood as a complex interplay of context, preconditions, perception, and interaction, The Model of Change becomes a tool to help us bring nuance to the simplistic cause-effect view that often dominates energy research. This type of contextual knowledge is essential to reproduce successes, improve failures and develop sustainable solutions that work.